The King of Thailand’s favourite dog has died, days after a man was arrested for allegedly making a joke about the pet, it has been reported.
Tong Daeng, meaning ‘copper’, became a household name in Thailand after being adopted by King Bhumibol Adulyadej whilst a stray puppy. The 88-year-old monarch developed a close attachment to her and wrote a heartfelt book about her in 2002.
The book became a bestseller in the kingdom and the relationship between master and dog is considered by many of the king’s citizens as being a parable on how Thai subjects should behave with obedience and loyalty towards the monarch. This month, the book was adapted to animation form and was debuted at cinemas to critical acclaim locally.
Earlier this month, a factory worker was reportedly arrested for posting a “sarcastic” comment about the dog online. Thai military authorities filed a complaint against Thanakorn Siripaiboon, 27, under ‘lese majeste’ legislation which renders insulting the monarchy a criminal offence. His arrest has been condemned by human rights organisations.
According to the Human Rights Watch, at least 56 lese majeste cases have been brought, with 43 relating to online comments, since a military coup in the country in May 2014.
It is reported that Major General Wicharn Jodtaeng, chief of the country’s National Council for Peace and Order’s Legal Office, stated in an interview earlier on 9 December that Facebook users who commented, shared or ‘liked’ content on the social media site which was deemed lese majeste would be prosecuted as well as the original poster of the material.
The crime carries a possible sentence of up to 37 years; 17 years more than the crime of rape.
According to The Bangkok Post, the dog died peacefully in her sleep at 11:10pm on Saturday. The animal was 17 years old and is understood to have died of old age.
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